Posted by: Jess Riley | January 22, 2009

Do It Different: Shaman

It’s been quite a while since we’ve done one of these – but no, we haven’t forgotten about the Do It Differents, and we will be wrapping up the last few races sometime soon.

The Archetype When it comes to the shaman, the Horde archetype seems to differ quite a bit from the Alliance archetype. In the Horde, shaman are slow, lumbering people – not stupid, but certainly in no rush to get anywhere and certainly a bit distant and frequently, find it difficult to communicate with other people. There’s usually the implication that they are constantly communicating with the elements or spirits. Alliance shaman (by which I mean, of course, draenei shaman) don’t generally seem to go by this archetype – but I’ll be honest, I can’t for the life of me work out what the archetypical draenei shaman is. If anyone can figure it out, do let me know.

The slow, lumbering stereotype only goes so far, however – we have plenty of those already. What are some other ways that we can play a shaman?

The Trickster Mentor: It’s easy to see the shaman as a mentor, isn’t it? Having spent his life dedicated to the spirit world and working as a spiritual visionary for his clan or tribe, this shaman has realised that, perhaps, it may be time to take on an apprentice, or a group of students working under him. However, for all that he seems wise and serene, his actions come across as bizarre, irrelevant or even plain antagonistic towards his students. There is a valuable lesson hidden in them – well, perhaps. Surely there must be, in any case. As soon as we figure out what it is, we will let you know. There are those who speculate that he’s going a bit mad, that after spending so long in the spirit realm and communing with things that ‘normal’ people can’t see, that he’s lost the ability to communicate with people normally. That may be true.

The worst part, at least for his students, is that he seems to so heartily enjoy their responses to his quirky teaching methods, and everyone always has the feeling that, despite his wisdom, despite his learnings, despite his reputation… maybe he’s neither losing it nor disguising a valuable lesson behind an unusual facade. Maybe he’s just slowly winding them up. (I don’t know why, but I really like this idea for a shaman. The only problem is that you really need to roleplay this in tandem with at least one other person who is acting as your student. However, if you can do that, it’s a personal favourite of mine.)

The Hermit: Some time ago, this character just gave up on living a typical life among other people. Perhaps they despaired for what their fellows were doing. Perhaps they wanted to be able to communicate with the spirit world more easily, without interruption. Either way, they don’t venture into towns and cities if they can possibly avoid it, and spend most of their time out in the wilderness alone. This is the kind of person we tend to imagine as sitting on a rock or under a tree and meditating, but they don’t have to – they can be living a perfectly energetic life that simply doesn’t interact with other people very often at all. When they do run into other people, they tend not to be very communicative, and act quite awkwardly – they haven’t really spoken to or communicated with other people in so long, that they tend to miss social cues and are one step behind everyone else. On the other hand, they know more than anyone else about the kind of life they’ve been leading. It’s a bit of a toss-up. (Once again, this comes with the caveat that it can be a bit hard to roleplay. On the other hand, great for an alt or a casual roleplayer – if he hasn’t been seen for a while, that’s perfectly in-character for him.)

The Blind Leader: Either through accident or unfortunate nature, this character is disabled in some way – probably blind or deaf. They seem, however, just as capable as anyone else. After all, they are a shaman – the spirits can guide them just as well as their normal senses can. At first exposure, they may not even appear to be disabled. Of course, over time, there will be some tell-tale signs – they always seem to know where they are going, but they couldn’t tell you what another person actually looks like, or anything of the sort. Completely artificial or mechanical things give them trouble as well – after all, the elemental spirits can’t help them, there. Still, they will appear to be entirely independent and perfectly well-functioning most of the time, but on those rare occasions that they aren’t, will be even more deeply troubled by this. After all, they’re used to operating with a certain kind of help – and it’s scary to lose that, and be left without much of anything. (The one caveat that I would make for this character is that you ought to go carefully with it – this is the type of concept that can be played very well or very poorly, and so I would tread carefully when it comes to roleplaying the disabled. Still, I find it an interesting concept to work with.)


  1. I actually play my Orc shaman similar to The Blind Leader, save for the fact that he’s noticabely blind (Or the odd fellow may thinks that he just has a too-large headband that somehow always slips over his eyes, but…); he’s not entirely capable, either. The spirits keep him from walking off that cliff over there, but nothing about tripping over a rock or root or somethin’.

    (Also, I’m working on the next article, honest. Please don’t send the thugs!)

  2. It’s alright; I only send the thugs after you if you’re really dumb like Sean. You’re at no risk of being attacked on my dollar.

  3. What really bugs me is that it’s not on Jess’s dollar. She doesn’t HAVE any.

    One of these days I’m going to learn to stop lending her money.

  4. Hm. My enhancement shammy’s more along the lines of That Guy in war movies…the one who never quite shuts up and always knows where to find some legal/nonlegal thing to make the next mission easier. Her RSP title is “Field Medic”…heals people as needed, bashes heads the rest of the time. I have entirely too much fun playing her, for a character I basically rolled because I wanted to mess around in Mulgore for a while. 🙂

  5. My troll shaman has dubbed her self “Witch Doctor Extraordinare” and for good reason; she’s a sham. Oh she knows how to heal and toss lightning bolts, but the rest of the things she offers and sells are of a dubious nature.

    “Need some courge, mon? I got somethin’ for ya. Izusa’s Strength Potions be all ya need ta go into battle and smash some heads!”

    Needless to say, on occasion, she finds herself quickly moving on to the next settlement when one of her clients doesn’t like the price they paid for the over hyped potions she creates. It’s fun to see just how much she can get away with before someone calls her bluff.

  6. I don’t know if she’s typical or not, but my Draenei turned to shamanism seeking a balance. She saw her own people with their highly intellectual civilization fall victim to Sargeras. She also saw the Orcs with their earthy, grounded shamanistic ways fall victim to the same demonic corruption.

    While she doesn’t believe the remaining Draenei are in too much danger of falling away from the Light, she believes they’ll be stronger and healthier with elements of both the abstract and the concrete in their beliefs and practises. (And there’s the example of the Draenei paladin in the Netherstorm who did turn away from the Light, so they’re not completely safe.)

    It’s also a way to set down personal roots in a new world. The Draenei have been nomadic for millenia, always fearing that every world they stopped on would be only a temporary home. One of the early questgivers says that the Prophet has told them that on Azeroth they will finally stop fleeing and turn on the Legion. Given that, she also wants to form a personal connection with a home world.

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